RFP automation: What it is, how it works, and best practices

If you’ ve ever responded to a request for proposal (RFP), you know they have a tendency to be about 80-85% boilerplate content. The remaining 15-20% is where you really have the freedom in order to adapt your proposal to a client’ s specific requirements.

This skewed structure indicates you might spend 80-85% of your energy responding to repeat questions. Subject material experts (SMEs) could invest up to 30% of time they didn’t have to spare addressing RFPs. Energy is used on repetitive tasks. Information and departmental silos keep teams from reaching their fullest revenue-generating potential as a collaborative unit.

But with RFP software, the story changes. Automating the RFP response process means less repetitive labor, additional time for other high-priority tasks—and the chance to make each RFP you submit pack a larger punch.

In this blog, we’ ll cover:

What is RFP automation?

RFP automation is a cloud-based B2B sales technology that helps teams maximize resources and time being spent on RFPs. As a result of these types of time savings, team members can return to other high-priority tasks.

But let’s take a take a step back.

Billions of years ago (in the late 2000s), marketing automation caused an important shift in email marketing. Automation allowed internet marketers to achieve more as a team and make a bigger impact on revenue.

Over the past few years, the proposal management industry experienced the same transformative effect with RFP automation .

It’s a collective energy to respond to an RFP , with involvement from multiple departments—sales, marketing, legal, finance, item, compliance, IT—and the list goes on. Usually (but not always) there exists a dedicated proposal manager leading these projects to keep everyone moving toward the same target…a timely, quality RFP response.

In the olden days, an RFP would come in. The particular proposal manager would “shred” it and assign queries to an SME—the all too acquainted questions the SME experienced answered many times before upon other proposals.

The SME then would spend a lot of time looking through folders plus documents to copy plus paste previous responses. There is little time to ensure quality manage.

With RFP automation, a good SME only has to solution a question once, and then it is captured in an Answer Library . The proposal manager can then reference the Answer Library to populate the responses with relevant content. SME involvement is made up only of oversight, ensuring the content is accurate and optimized.

Automation helps teams maximize resources and time being spent on RFPs. Time savings allow team members to return to other high-priority tasks. Some of your most valuable and costly resources take part in RFP responses. If you respond to 100 RFPs in a year, this really adds up. To determine your RFP automation cost savings, check out our ROI calculator .

How do you automate an RFP response?

Automating an RFP response comes down to two main things: Synthetic intelligence and content. AI-enabled RFP automation technology utilizes AI to match existing at ease with new incoming RFP queries. The more content you have, the greater accurate the result.

When we attempted to build a consolidated (and better) solution for RFP response management back in 2015, repeatedly we heard that responders wanted a platform that could help them improve cooperation and automate workflows.

A number of RFP automation solutions existed, but they weren’t easy to use. And these solutions didn’t integrate with systems that teams were already using across a business, including CRMs like Salesforce, communication tools like Slack, or cloud storage such as Google Drive. With more than 8, 000 options in the marketing and advertising technology landscape, the last thing a business needs is a solution that will doesn’t play nice to technology its stack.

marketing technology landscape

To make sure we built a remedy for proper RFP automation, we focused on three factors:

  • Artificial intelligence: (AI) is changing the way we all work, including exactly how proposal management teams “shred” their RFPs. It’s easier to break up relevant sections, auto-identify response content, and give questions to subject matter professionals.
  • Integrations: Our integrations keep just about all team members working in their preferred tools. Salespeople don’t wish to leave their CRM to reply to RFPs and they no more have to. SMEs are inaccessible by email, but they’ll engage through Slack.
  • Content management: The Answer Library is the articles management hub—not only for RFPs, but for all company info. Anyone has access to the most recent and greatest content, which can be easily searched, selected, and inserted into a variety of business documents…even emails.

Benefits of RFP software

Achieving more with RFP automation also means responding to more RFPs. Organizations that use RFP software react to 43% more RFPs each year , on average. Because the time-savings realized from automation could be re-invested to maintain or enhance response quality, imagine exactly what this scenario, based on data from our research , would do to your revenue forecast:

  • Prior to RFP automation, let us say you responded to typically about 50 RFPs every year.
  • Each RFP win equals, on average, $1-3 million.
  • Add 43% more responses each year with RFP software.
  • In a industry average of 45% win rate, that equates to 22. 5 more wins per year.

In this scenario, your income forecast from RFPs could increase upwards of $22. five million to $67. five million in a year!

Without software, response management teams can only dream of increasing RFP reactions, let alone revenue forecasts. These people respond to RFPs in a reactive state, which, of course , is just not the way to produce a quality deliverable for the prospect.

Saving period through efficient processes evolves into extra hours to consider viable business opportunities—perhaps even breaking into new markets. RFP automation gives your team the space to establish a proactive procedure, where technology handles a lot of the heavy lifting. Team members are brought in to use their particular strengths to strengthen the particular content—and the chances of winning the deal.

RFP automation: Is it a great AI use case?

Somebody has to say it. Doc Brown of Back to the Future fame wasn’t a scientist. He was a tinkerer whom built Rube Goldberg machines. Everything from his dog Einstein’s automatic feeder to the Delorean’s lightning rod was an overly complex chain-reaction contraption. Until he invented the particular Flux Capacitor. That was the real science that made time travel possible.

How is Doc Brown’s evolution from tinkerer to scientist relevant to automation? In the case of responding to RFPs, you can not simply automate all of the manual tasks that go into a reply. If you do that, then you’ll end up with an RFP Rube Goldberg machine that may not be as reliable as the manual processes you’re trying to remove. But in situations where AI is appropriate? That’s the real science that makes automation possible.

Because promising as AI is certainly, it’s still just plain tough. Projects are costly, awkward, and difficult to complete. Only 53% of AI projects allow it to be into production, and those that do are only profitable about 60% of the time .

RFP automation best practices

In the case of RFPIO’s Auto Respond features, AI-enabled automation:

Populates the particular “first pass” of reactions of an entire project or even section of a project References Answer Library records in conjunction with a number of filters and the ranking of metadata Uses a recommendation algorithm to prioritize and rank the results Allows results previews so users can choose whether or not to use the answers

To do this, AI operations factor in, among other things:

  • Access to the Answer Library articles by user
  • Similar questions or alternate questions within the Answer Library
  • Answer Type/Compatibility
  • Content-to-search match percentage
  • Celebrity rating (content quality)
  • Utilized count (how often the content is used)
  • Last utilized date
  • Last updated time
  • Exact word/phrase match

When effectively executed, AI enables RFP automation because the solution has been built by qualified data scientists, extensively tested, depending on accurate data models, and designed to scale. It’s also important to note that AI isn’t meant to be used to replace human beings; it’s intended to enhance us.

The secret to RFP software success: Organized content

Even artificial intelligence needs a brain. Don’t worry. This isn’t a Skynet scenario. For RFP automation, the brain is your content library. More specifically, within RFPIO this is known as the Solution Library.

With a robust, well-maintained Answer Library as a useful resource, your AI can grow in sophistication from device learning. Users will be able to filtration system at higher levels, access the cleanest Q& The pairs, and move quicker through the response process. In addition , time saved from RFP automation can be re-invested in to developing better content and curating existing content to improve its quality.

A long-term benefit of RFP automation can be increased visibility into which content is most popular and where you have gaps. Information from these insights will be beneficial in your content strategy moving forward.

So through RFP software using a reliable Answer Library you get to create better articles and find time to continuously manage content, all while addressing more RFPs. That sounds like a profitable use situation for AI.

Are you ready to see if RFP automation is right for you? Schedule the demo to find out.

The submit RFP automation: What it is, how it works, plus best practices appeared first on RFPIO .

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